From the most bloat-inducing foods to the least, we asked an expert to share her recipe for beating bloated stomach woes for good
What causes bloating? From the dietary to the non-dietary, irritable bowel syndrome to stress , a bloated belly could be due to a wide variety of reasons.
To a certain extent, an inflated post-meal stomach is completely normal and shouldn’t give rise for concern (nor make any woman feel like they have to dismiss pregnancy rumours for that matter, just like Jennifer Aniston had to do once). That said, if bloating after eating causes extreme discomfort or gas, it could be time to see your GP. Short-term solutions in the meantime can range from chewing your food until it’s almost liquid and avoiding drinking excessive water with meals so as not to dilute your stomach acid (nutritional therapist Eve Kalinik’s top tips).
However, it might be worth looking to see if certain foods could be responsible. This can differ from person to person, but there are certain culinary culprits that are more common than others. We asked Dr Ayesha Akbar, Consultant Gastroenterologist from St. Mark’s Institute for Bowel Disease to help ID them as well as provide her recommendations of better bloat-free alternatives. Here are her top 10 picks.
Why they can cause bloating: “As beans contain alpha-galactosidase sugars, they are one of the foods that can cause gas as a by-product of digestion.”
Bloat-busting tip: “This doesn’t mean you have to avoid beans completely, adjust your diet by cutting them down or look into replacing them with beans that are more digestible instead, e.g. black beans. You can also use other grains.”
Why it can cause bloating: “Garlic is a great antibacterial food however, it contains fructans which are FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) which also cause bloating.”
Bloat-busting tip: “To reduce the effects of bloating, avoid raw garlic and make sure to cook it before adding into dishes.”
MORE GLOSS: Should you adopt a low FODMAP diet?
3. Dairy products
Why they can cause bloating: “As a large chunk of the population is lactose intolerant, their digestive systems can’t break lactose down and so consuming yogurt, milk, cheese and butter can cause bloating.”
Bloat-busting tip: “Look into using lactose-free products including alternative milks: soya, coconut or almond.”
Why they can cause bloating: “As apples contain fructose, those suffering from ‘fructose malabsorption’ [i.e. an inability to absorb it properly] may suffer from digesting issues and bloating after eating these.”
Bloat-busting tip: “Similar to garlic, cooking the apples may reduce the effects of bloating. If you would like to replace them with a different fruit, try blueberries, grapefruits or bananas.”
MORE GLOSS: The 10 reasons why you’re always hungry
Why it can cause bloating: “Bread is a common cause of bloating as it can contain gluten, rye and wheat.”
Bloat-busting tip: “To avoid bloating, you could look into cutting bread out of your diet or replacing rye with brown rice, quinoa or buckwheat.”
Why they can cause bloating: “Due to the fact lentils are high in fibre, they can also cause bloating.”
Bloat-busting tip: “They contribute to excessive gas production unless soaked before eating. Opt for light-coloured lentils as they are also lower in fibre than the darker ones.”
MORE GLOSS: 11 ways with turmeric
7. Sugar alcohols
Why they can cause bloating: “Surprisingly, some alcohols are also FODMAPs and tend to cause digestive problems. Consuming a lot of alcohol can also cause bloating.”
Bloat-busting tip: “Use alternatives to sugar and sugar alcohol, e.g. stevia - a natural sweetener with proven health benefits.”
Why it can cause bloating: “Similar to beans above, broccoli belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family which means they can increase bloating for some individuals.”
Bloat-busting tip: “Replace broccoli with sweet potatoes (which have many health benefits), lettuce or spinach.”
9. Carbonated drinks
Why they can cause bloating: “Fizzy carbonated drinks contain a lot of carbon dioxide and therefore are the most common cause of bloating.”
Bloat-busting tip: “It’s best to avoid any fizzy drinks and instead drink flavoured water.”
MORE GLOSS: 15 reasons why fizzy drinks are evil
Why they can cause bloating: “Similar to apples, watermelons contain fructose and can cause an upset stomach for some.”
Bloat-busting tip: “Watermelons are a very popular fruit in the summer but to avoid bloating, it might be best to replace them with grapefruits and bananas.”